Early-Signing Period / Top Recruiting Classes
Florida Tops in Early Recruiting Returns
Trying to rank the top baseball recruiting classes in
the country in the early-signing period is very much like ranking draft classes
the week after the draft, before prospects sign and get out and play.
It has to be put very much in perspective because of
the inherent uncertainty that many of the top recruits will never make it to
campus due to professional baseball. A portion of those who don’t sign
professionally will also decide to attend junior college instead of a four-year
College coaches are well aware of this double
whammy, and usually have realistic expectations about who they will get to
campus and who they won’t, although any comments they make on the subject are
strictly “background” and off the record.
It’s not uncommon to talk to a particular high-level
college coach and hear comments like, “There’s five guys in our class that we
could lose (to pro ball); if we keep three of them it will be a great year,” or
“I think we stand a really good chance of keeping Player X; I know the scouts
love him but he’s a very good student and his parents are alumni . . . etc.,”
or “Yeah, Player Z really doesn’t want to go to school, he’ll probably end up
at a JC if he doesn’t sign.”
History shows that about 50 percent of Perfect Game’s
Top 100 Prep Prospects each year sign professionally out of high school. It
would be impossible to guess which of those 50 will go to college, so one has
to assume that just about everyone will when evaluating top recruiting classes.
* Perfect Game Top 100
Recruits (14 total HS recruits): RHP *Hudson Boyd (FL),
OF *Jeff Driskel (FL), RHP *Michael Kelly (FL), RHP *John Magliozzi (MA), C *Brandon
Sedell (FL), RHP/3B Justin Shafer (FL), RHP *Kyle Smith (FL), LHP *Corey Stump
(FL); 2B/OF *Josh Tobias (NC), 3B *Sean Trent (FL), 1B *Daniel Vogelbach (FL),
RHP/OF *Ryan Harris (FL).
With five Aflac All-Americans (Kelly, Magliozzi,
Sedell, Tobias, Trent)
and a number of talents at essentially the same level, the Gators are sure to lose
some players to pro ball. Notable in the pitching from this group is that Boyd,
Magliozzi and Smith are as polished and accomplished a trio of pitchers as
exists in the 2011 class. They should be able to step up immediately as freshmen
and compete at a very high level, if needed. Vogelbach could have the same
immediate impact with his bat, as could Sedell. Don’t count on Driskel to
contribute much on the baseball field as he is the top-ranked high school
quarterback in the country and is being billed as the next Tim Tebow by Gator
faithful. On top of the Gators’ standout 2010 class (Zunino, Maddox, Fontana, Randall, Johnson, Heller, Washington, etc.), this
class could give Florida
the base to become the dominant power in college baseball over the next few
Recruits (10): OF *Josh Bell (TX), RHP *Dylan Bundy
(OK), RHP *John Curtiss (TX), 3B Matthew Dean (TX), RHP Parker French (TX),
SS/RHP *Ricardo Jacquez (TX), C *Blake Swihart (NM), LHP *Dillon Peters (IN).
Although the numbers (10) are relatively small, the
Longhorns are not short on top prospects as four of their recruits were Aflac
All-Americans (Bundy, Dean, Jacquez, Swihart), and a fifth, Bell, might have been without injury
concerns. This is probably a situation (see above) where the UT staff is saying,
“If we could get 3 of those 5 players to school, we’d have a great, great
class.” Remember, Texas
got RHP Taylor Jungmann to campus three years ago as an Aflac righthanded
pitcher and Jungmann could easily go in the top five picks in the 2011 draft. On
the other hand, Bell, Jacquez and Swihart
represent a level of middle-of-the-field athletic ability that Texas has not been
successful getting on campus in recent years.
Recruits (12): RHP Carson Baranik (LA), LHP/OF *Jake Cave
(VA), SS *Johnny Eierman (MO), LHP Cody Glenn (TX), C Tyler Moore (LA), RHP
Aaron Nola (LA), SS *Trevor Story (TX).
This is a recruiting class that Tigers coaches
probably think they can make a clean sweep, and see all 12 current members on
campus next fall. Cave is the big question, of course, but he doesn’t project
as a top-half of the first round this year, something he could very well
accomplish after three years in college. With Nola (whose brother Austin is the
LSU shortstop) and Story, the question is more just how good they will get by
next June, as both are rapidly-improving prospects who could exceed current
draft expectations. Eierman is raw with his baseball skills but there are few
better athletes in the class, and the Tigers likely look at him as a Mikie Mahtook-type
State has had great
success mining the junior-college ranks the past few years and while that
doesn’t factor into these rankings, it’s no small consideration for the overall
standing of the LSU program.
Recruits (17): OF *Shon Carson (SC), SS *T.J. Costen
(VA), C *Grayson Greiner (SC), RHP Taylor Guerrieri (SC), SS Mikal Hill (NC),
RHP/SS Joey Pankake (SC), RHP/SS Joel Seddon (MI).
The defending NCAA champions have a very full
recruiting class of 17 high-school recruits and, as usual, have stayed very
regional, with 10 of those players from South Carolina and only two (Michigan,
Massachusetts) from outside the Georgia/Virginia corridor. There is no
mistaking that middle-infield talent was high on the Gamecocks wish list, as
Hill and Costen are two of the top high-school shortstops in the country, and
Pankake and Seddon are two-way prospects with high D-I tools as position
players. Greiner gives the class another outstanding prospect at a premium
defensive position. Carson
will be an interesting wild card. He will also be playing running back on the
USC football team, which could erode his potential first-round type baseball
Recruits (9): RHP *Tyler Beede (MA), IF Connor
Castellano (LA), RHP *Kevin Comer (NJ), MIF Vicente Conde (FL), LHP *Phillip
Pfeifer (TN), RHP *Adam Ravenelle (MA).
Vanderbilt is among top programs in the country that
keep their signees, along with other top dual baseball/academic schools such as
Stanford and Rice. As a result, you can look at four quality pitching prospects
like Beede, Comer, Pfeifer and Ravenelle, and speculate that at least three of
them will end up in Nashville
next fall. That would give the Commodores the same type of high-level pitching
staff that they currently have (Gray, Armstrong, Garvin, Clinard, Moore, Selman, etc.) going
into the future. Pfeifer is so advanced that he would be a definite Freshman
All-America candidate, and Beede and Comer wouldn’t be far behind. The
Commodores also landed one of the top junior-college players in the draft,
JC RHP Drew Verhagen.
Recruits (16): 3B *Dante Bichette (FL), 3B *Hunter
Cole (SC), RHP Luke Crumley (GA), C *Nick Delmonico (TN), SS *Tyler Greene (FL),
3B *Patrick Leonard (TX), RHP Mike Mancuso (OH), RHP Reggie McClain (GA), 1B
Jared Walsh (GA).
The Bulldogs huge recruiting class seems determined
to corner the market on hard-hitting third basemen (Bichette, Cole, Leonard),
and an argument could be made that this is potentially the top hitting group in
the country, when you also factor in Delmonico, Walsh and Greene. There will
always be other corner positions available should all three hot-corner sluggers
end up on campus. The irony is that Georgia just suffered through one
of the worst seasons imaginable in 2010 (16-37) due to a pitching staff that
simply imploded (8.51 ERA). Only six pitchers are currently committed to Georgia,
pointing to the double-edged recruiting sword of opportunity vs. chance of
Recruits (17): 3B Grayson Atwood (NC), RHP *Bryan
Brickhouse (TX), RHP *Adam Griffin (NC), SS Zac LaNeve (PA), RHP *Dillon Maples
(NC), RHP Chris McCue (NC), RHP Mason McCullough (NC), RHP *Benton Moss (NC).
The Tar Heels recruiting class stands out for two
reasons. First is the size of it; 17 players is one of the largest groups of
high-school recruits in the country. Second, it is obvious what the perceived
needs of the team are, as eight of the signees are primarily pitchers (with two
others having definite D-I arms) and seven are infielders. There are only two
outfielders and no catchers. Strong-armed righthanders Dillon Maples and Bryan
Brickhouse are the best bets to attract serious attention (and investment) from
professional baseball, but the depth of arms in this class, to go with a strong
group of pitchers already at UNC, should guarantee the Tar Heels a deep pitching
staff for years to come.
Recruits (8): 3B *Tyler Goeddel (CA), C *Austin Hedges (CA), SS *Kevin
Kramer (CA), RHP *Joe Ross (CA), OF *Eric Snyder (CA).
The Bruins were one of the surprise teams of the
2010 college season, with a young roster built around outstanding pitching
talent and fundamentally-sound position players. Their 2011 recruiting class
isn’t as deep as many around the country, at least as of the early-signing
date, but keeping three or four of the above players would make it a banner
group for this program. Kramer and Snyder are two of the best present
“performance” players in the class, while Hedges is a defensive standout and
Aflac All-American. Goeddel, whose injury-plagued brother Erik unexpectedly
signed this summer (with the New York
for $500,000 in the 23rd round), could be the highest-ceiling talent
in the group. The numbers do show a need for more pitching in this class,
Recruits (10): LHP *Porter Clayton (ID), OF *Billy
Flamion (CA), RHP Sam Johnson (OR), OF Spencer O’Neil (WA), RHP Jake Reed (CA),
RHP Cole Wiper (WA).
The Ducks are already assured of at least one
recruit reaching campus as Clayton will reportedly graduate early and enroll at
the spring semester. The downside of that is that he will also leave at some
point in college career for his two-year Mormon Mission. Flamion is a dynamic
talent who could become the face of the young Oregon program should he pass on what will
likely be significant pro interest. Oregon
has already shown that developing pitching is a major strength of the program
and Clayton, Johnson, Reed and Wiper are all high-ceiling talents.
Recruits (15): C *Greg Bird (CO), RHP Michael Fulmer
(OK), 1B *Michael Gunn (AR), RHP *Dillon Howard (AR), OF *Brandon Nimmo (WY), C
Jean Ramirez (TX), C John Clay Reeves (LA), SS *Drake Roberts (TX).
The Razorbacks are forced out of necessity to be a
regional, if not national, recruiting presence because of the lack of Division
I talent in the Arkansas
prep ranks, and their deep 15-member class, including players from seven different
states, reflects that. Their big catch, though, is Howard, an Arkansas native and one of the top prospects
ever from the state. This class stands out for having three quality catchers,
although Bird and Reeves both have the type of power bats that can play and
contribute at any corner position. The very talented Nimmo, possibly the best
talent ever to come out of Wyoming,
will be the wild card, as he hasn’t been seen often by pro scouts, especially against top-level competition, and won’t be
before next June.
SCHOOLS TO WATCH
These three schools aren’t traditional Top 25 type
programs, but each has a recruiting class that could impact the program for
years to come.
Recruits: C *Tyler Marlette (FL), RHP Russ Meyer (FL), RHP
Garrett Nuss (FL), SS Tommy Williams (FL).
UCF has a very strong sophomore class (CF Ronnie
Richardson, SS Darnell Sweeney, LHP Joe Rogers, C Chris Taladay) and this group
of players could transition in nicely in 2012 for what some consider a
potential sleeping giant of college baseball.
Recruits: C *Cam Gallagher
(PA), RHP/1B *Rookie Davis (NC), SS Nick Thompson (VA), LHP Shawn Morimando
Gallagher, an Aflac All-American catcher, is an
obvious huge potential catch for East Carolina, but Davis’ two-way skills and Thompson’s
offensive ability in the middle of the field are both impact factors as well.
The Pirates have also secured commitments from three prominent JC players from Florida, notably Chipola
C Geno Escalante, a transfer from Cal State Fullerton.
Recruits: OF *Dakota Smith (KS), LHP *Cody Kukuk (KS), OF
*Connor McKay (CO).
The Jayhawks are one of the best-coached teams in
the country but have to physically overachieve to succeed in the tough Big 12. Smith,
Kukuk and McKay are the type of talents who could compete and excel at any
school in the country.